Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

  (Redirected from Secretary of State for Health)

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, also referred to as the Health Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) with responsibility for England's National Health Service (NHS). The office forms part of the British Cabinet.

Her Majesty's Principal
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Official portrait of Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP.jpg
Matt Hancock

since 9 July 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
StyleHealth Secretary
The Right Honourable
(UK and the Commonwealth)
StatusMinister of the Crown
Member ofCabinet
Privy Council
Reports toThe Prime Minister
AppointerThe Crown
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Formation14 October 1854
First holderSir Benjamin Hall
Salary£143,552 (Including salary as MP)

The current Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is Matt Hancock, MP. since his appointment by then Prime Minister Theresa May, in July 2018.


Corresponding to what is generally known as a health minister in many other countries, the Health Secretary's remit includes:

  • Oversight of England's National Health Service, including:
    • Delivery of care
    • Performance
    • Financial management[1]
  • Matters concerning England's social care policy
  • Matters concerning England's national public health
  • Relations with international health partnerships (WHO)


Since devolution in 1999, the position holder's responsibility for the NHS is mainly restricted to the health service in England, with the holder's counterparts in Scotland and Wales responsible for the NHS in Scotland and Wales. Prior to devolution, the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales had those respective responsibilities, but the Department of Health had a larger role than now in the co-ordination of health policy across Great Britain. Health services in Northern Ireland have always had separate arrangements from the rest of the UK, and are currently the responsibility of the Health Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive.

The first Boards of Health were created by Orders in Council dated 21 June, 14 November and 21 November 1831. In 1848, a General Board of Health was created with the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests as its president. In 1854, this Board was reconstituted and the President appointed separately. However, the Board was abolished in 1858 and its function of overseeing the local boards was transferred to a new Local Government Act Office within the Home Office. From 1871, that function was transferred to the new Local Government Board.

The Ministry of Health was created in 1919 as a reconstruction of the Local Government Board. Local government functions were eventually transferred to the Minister of Housing and Local Government, leaving the Health Ministry in charge of Health proper.

From 1968, it was amalgamated with the Ministry of Social Security under the Secretary of State for Social Services, until a de-merger of the Department of Health and Social Security on 25 July 1988.

List of MinistersEdit

Colour key (for political parties):
  Whig   Conservative   Radical   Peelite   Liberal   Labour   Unionist   National Labour   National Liberal

President of the Board of Health (1848–1858)Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
As First Commissioner of Woods and Forests Lord John Russell
The Earl of Carlisle   1848 17 April 1849 Whig
Lord Seymour   17 April 1849 1 August 1851 Whig
As First Commissioner of Works
Lord Seymour   1 August 1851 21 February 1852 Whig
Lord John Manners   4 March 1852 17 December 1852 Conservative The Earl of Derby
Sir William Molesworth, Bt   5 January 1853 14 October 1854 Radical The Earl of Aberdeen
President of the Board of Health
Sir Benjamin Hall, Bt   14 October 1854 13 August 1855 Whig
The Viscount Palmerston
William Cowper   13 August 1855 9 February 1857 Whig
William Monsell   9 February 1857 24 September 1857 Whig
William Cowper   24 September 1857 21 February 1858 Whig
Charles Adderley   8 March 1858 1 September 1858 Conservative The Earl of Derby
Board of Health abolished in 1858; responsibilities transferred to
the Privy Council (1858–1871), then the Local Government Board (1871–1919).

Minister of Health (1919–1968)Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Dr Christopher Addison   24 June 1919 1 April 1921 Liberal David Lloyd George
Sir Alfred Mond, Bt   1 April 1921 19 October 1922 Liberal
Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen   24 October 1922 7 March 1923
(Lost seat 1922)
Conservative Bonar Law
Neville Chamberlain   7 March 1923 27 August 1923 Conservative
Stanley Baldwin
Sir William Joynson-Hicks, Bt   27 August 1923 22 January 1924 Conservative
John Wheatley   22 January 1924 3 November 1924 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Neville Chamberlain   6 November 1924 4 June 1929 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
Arthur Greenwood 7 June 1929 24 August 1931 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Neville Chamberlain   25 August 1931 5 November 1931 Conservative Ramsay MacDonald
(1st National Min.;
2nd National Min.)
Sir Hilton Young   5 November 1931 7 June 1935 Conservative
Sir Kingsley Wood   7 June 1935 16 May 1938 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
(3rd National Min.)
Neville Chamberlain
(4th National Min.;
War Coalition)
Dr Walter Elliot   16 May 1938 13 May 1940 Unionist
Malcolm MacDonald   13 May 1940 8 February 1941 National Labour Winston Churchill
(War Coalition;
Caretaker Min.)
Ernest Brown   8 February 1941 11 November 1943 National Liberal
Henry Willink 11 November 1943 26 July 1945 Conservative
Aneurin Bevan   3 August 1945 17 January 1951 Labour Clement Attlee
Hilary Marquand   17 January 1951 26 October 1951 Labour
Harry Crookshank   30 October 1951 7 May 1952 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill
Iain Macleod   7 May 1952 20 December 1955 Conservative
Sir Anthony Eden
Robin Turton   20 December 1955 16 January 1957 Conservative
Dennis Vosper   16 January 1957 17 September 1957 Conservative Harold Macmillan
Derek Walker-Smith   17 September 1957 27 July 1960 Conservative
Enoch Powell   27 July 1960 20 October 1963 Conservative
Anthony Barber   20 October 1963 16 October 1964 Conservative Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Kenneth Robinson   18 October 1964 1 November 1968 Labour Harold Wilson
Post merged with Ministry for Social Security in 1968.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Services (1968–1988)Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Richard Crossman   1 November 1968 19 June 1970 Labour Harold Wilson
Sir Keith Joseph   20 June 1970 4 March 1974 Conservative Edward Heath
Barbara Castle   5 March 1974 8 April 1976 Labour Harold Wilson
David Ennals   8 April 1976 4 May 1979 Labour James Callaghan
Patrick Jenkin   5 May 1979 14 September 1981 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
Norman Fowler   14 September 1981 13 June 1987 Conservative
John Moore   13 June 1987 25 July 1988 Conservative
Post split into Secretary of State for Social Security and Secretary of State for Health in 1988.

Secretary of State for Health (1988–2018)Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Kenneth Clarke   25 July 1988 2 November 1990 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
William Waldegrave   2 November 1990 10 April 1992 Conservative
John Major
Virginia Bottomley   10 April 1992 5 July 1995 Conservative
Stephen Dorrell   5 July 1995 2 May 1997 Conservative
Frank Dobson   3 May 1997 11 October 1999 Labour Tony Blair
Alan Milburn   11 October 1999 13 June 2003 Labour
John Reid   13 June 2003 6 May 2005 Labour
Patricia Hewitt   6 May 2005 27 June 2007 Labour
Alan Johnson   28 June 2007 5 June 2009 Labour Gordon Brown
Andy Burnham   5 June 2009 11 May 2010 Labour
Andrew Lansley   11 May 2010 4 September 2012 Conservative David Cameron
Jeremy Hunt   4 September 2012 8 January 2018 Conservative
David Cameron
Theresa May

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (2018–present)Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Jeremy Hunt   8 January 2018 9 July 2018 Conservative Theresa May
Matt Hancock   9 July 2018 Incumbent Conservative
Boris Johnson